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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Historic Farm at Opou

Historic Farm at Opou

The foundations of farming in Poverty Bay were laid by Harris, early in 1835, when he bought from the natives a block named “Opou,” which forms but a small portion of the extensive property which, to-day, is known by that name. On 10 November, 1840, he wrote to E. Deas Thomson (Colonial Secretary of New South Wales) as under: “On 10 December, 1839, I purchased from the natives on the river [? at] Turanga, about 10 miles from its mouth [then near Awapuni] a piece of land bounded by the river on the west [? east] and on the south….” It was added: “I have had people living on the said land and two houses and fences erected thereon since 5 February, 1835.” In a later claim, he styled the property “Tampa, or Te Uhi, or Toumata-o-Tamahae.” The consideration, as shown on both claims, included 250 lbs. of powder, ten pairs of trousers and ten duck frocks. There was also mention of a d.b. gun, seventy-six yards of calico, ten shirts and nine boxes of percussion caps in a letter forwarded with the second claim.

That the block was “Opou” and included Tapatahi was made plain when the matter came before Commissioner Bell in 1859. Paratene Turangi then said: “I remember selling to Mr. Harris the land on which his house stands; it is called Ko Opou.” The block, which Harris now described as standing on the bank of the Waipaoa River, was referred to in like manner by Kahutia and Manahi. A trading station was placed upon this property and a loading bank constructed for the convenience of small craft.

Harris junior says that his father obtained three working mares from the Bay of Islands in 1839; they were portion of a shipment which had just arrived from Valparaiso. During the same year he also procured some cattle. The first cattle for Kaupapa mission station left the Bay of Islands on 22 November, 1839, and horses were obtained in the following year. Moses Yule, a trader at Makaraka, introduced Kerry cattle in 1848. To him the district was also indebted for importing good breeds of pigs. Shortly after the arrival of his horses and cattle—and probably in anticipation of engaging also in sheepfarming—Harris set out to secure leases of nearby blocks. He was required to give horses and cattle, together with a small sum in cash, as rent for Pipi-whakao and Kohangakarearea. When he leased Aohina in 1856, the natives demanded the whole of the rent in cash.

Some years after the death of Tukura, Harris remarried, his second wife (as is stated in the chapter dealing with “Whaling”) page 102 being a Miss Hargraves. There were also two children of this marriage—a son, Harold, who became a resident of Hawke's Bay, and a daughter, Bertha, who married a Mr. King, a chemist, of Auckland. Harris's death occurred in tragic circumstances on 4 February, 1872, at the home of Captain Ellis, at Auckland.